Starring Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Allison Janney, Bobby Cannavale,
Director Paul Feig (The Heat, Bridesmaids) said he would never be allowed to directed a James Bond film (thank goodness!), so this was as closest he would ever get. Action comedies have never been able to blend both genres successfully (and I am talking about art, not getting some tub of popcorn to laugh at prat fall jokes), it’s either too over the top, or the plot isn’t serious enough to balance the jokes. Take the last time McCarthy played a law enforcement officer with a gun in The Heat, see you had already forgotten she already did this stunt didn’t you. That was predictable and formulaic and so is Spy. The most talented thing about McCarthy is her willingness and freedom to make fun of herself. Bridesmaids co-star Byrne (Neighbors) has also become “the straight face” for these overblown comedies.
After the CIA’s most prized agent Bradley Fine (Law) becomes inactive, the intelligence agent behind the scenes, Susan Cooper (McCarthy) decides it’s her time to step into the field. Impressed by her ruthless training video, the CIA mission director (Janney) gives the green light for Cooper’s new identity which includes permed hair and a cat themes sweater to hit the streets of Paris. Sent to observe and report, Cooper can’t control herself when it comes to getting revenge on Fine’s behalf. She will stop at nothing to dismantle arms dealer Reanna (Byrne), well at least until she is compromised. Cooper must then join Reanna’s security detail to monitor her actions. Rouge agent Rick Ford (Statham) doesn’t believe in Cooper’s abilities and follows her each step of the way, but it’s typically she who ends up saving him.
The most talented thing about McCarthy is her willingness and freedom to make fun of herself.
The opening credits and the over dramatization of Jude Law as a James Bond like figure, sets the tone for the film. It’s Feig again trying to repeat the success of Bridesmaids in a raunchy action comedy. McCarthy has gained such momentum and popularity no one seems to notice she is just repeating the same gags and jokes with every film, I seem to be the only one bored. She is entertaining for a spell, but after seeing this same character again and again the comedy is so diluted it makes it hard to enjoy or laugh. The best moment of the film is also the most violent, when Cooper reveals her defense moves in a fight that ends with blood, vomit and a knife that just keeps stabbing.
Bravo for Feig filling the film with a variety of female characters; Janney as the director delivering hateful one liners (although she is better than this, someone get this woman a great leading indie role), Byrne as the villain and even a female partner for Cooper in British comedian Miranda Hart. Besides one of the best comedic kills ever, I got bored with Spy especially once I saw an obvious and direct window to the conclusion in the first 10 minutes. McCarthy briefly played a character outside her zone in St. Vincent last year, but like someone stepping in uncomfortably cold water, she has run right back into the arms of comfortable stupidity.
Funny in spots but Feig’s comedy style is a revolving door of similar stunts and laughs.